Scramble was an old arcade game released by Konami way back in 1981. This title was distributed by Stern in the United States. This title was followed up by Super Cobra, only a few months after its release.
Scramble was a pretty popular game back in its day. I believe it was the first game in a small sub-genre of shooters where you had to bomb ground targets in addition to dealing with flying ones. This game was the first title to use the "Scramble Hardware" that was later used for Super Cobra, Lost Tomb, The End, and several other titles. One big mistake that Konami made with this one is that it had absolutely no kind of copy protection, which means it could run on just about anything that used a Z80 processor, which was almost everything available at the time. So needless to say, there were a lot of bootleg copies of Scramble floating around.
In Scramble you are in control of a spaceship, and you have to fight your way through 6 different levels. Touching anything is deadly. But luckily you are armed with both a blaster and an unlimited amount of bombs that you can drop two at a time. The blaster is used for enemies that are in the air, while the bombs fall down to attack ground targets. Speaking of ground targets, your ship has a fuel gauge that constantly decreases, and the only way to fill it back up is by bombing fuel tanks that are located throughout the levels. The first time through the game you can miss half of them easily, but your fuel use ramps up each time you go through the game, until it becomes impossible to finish a level.
The first level consists mostly of dodging or shooting missiles that are fired up from the ground. The second level is more enclosed, and it adds flying opponents into the mix. The third level consists completely of dodging fireballs and blasting fuel tanks, while the fourth level has huge buildings and lots of missiles. The fifth level is all about making extremely difficult maneuvers in close quarters, while the sixth level is basically just one thing that you have to bomb. Then the game starts over with faster fuel consumption.
The Scramble cabinet was the same basic cabinet design that Stern used for all its games. It featured a monitor that was laid back at a 45 degree angle, and a very large marquee that was angled towards the player. Most cabinets have straight up and down marquees, so Stern ones are easy to spot.
This title features rather primitive painted sideart that only uses two colors, but it makes up for it with the awesome comic book style art on the control panel and monitor bezel. The marquee has a roundish "Scramble" logo, with some sort of space castle in the background. The control panel is aluminum, and it has a mostly yellow design, with game instructions and a red ball-top 8-Way leaf switch joystick mounted centrally. It has fire buttons on both sides of the panel, so it can be played either left handed or right handed. The industry later forgot about lefties altogether and went completely right handed.
Most of these machines were uprights, but there were a few cocktail units made as well. They were pretty generic looking, and there really isn't much to say about them.
Where to play
Scramble is going to be a hard game to add to your arcade game collection. It is very difficult to find, despite the popularity that it enjoyed in the early 80s. Prices are not that outrageous if you can actually locate a machine in the first place.
If you can't locate an actual arcade game then try playing the Atari 2600 or Commodore 64 version, the "Konami Classics" compilation disc for the Playstation, or using the MAME emulator. Vectrex owners get a special treat, as they can play the only version of this game ever to use an X-Y monitor for a display.